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The traditional culture is rural, but today more than 60 percent of the population is urban, with a quarter of the national residents living in metropolitan Skopje.Traditional architectural influences are Mediterranean, Byzantine, and Ottoman.Macedonia is slightly larger than the state of Vermont with a total area of 9,781 square miles (25,333 square kilometers). The number of Macedonians in neighboring states is difficult to determine. Macedonian is a South Slavic language in the Indo-European family whose closest relatives are Bulgarian and Serbian.The country consists mostly of mountains separated by flat river valleys. There is a major east-west dialectal division and about twenty subdivisions.The sarcophagus of Gotse Delchev in a church in Skopje is near the site of a ceremonial commemoration that includes fireworks, picnics, and folk dancing.
It is claimed that a Macedonian national identity arose during World War II to keep Yugoslavian Macedonia separate from Bulgaria, but there is documentation that the development of a national identity was indigenous in the nineteenth century. Ethnic Macedonians live in contiguous parts of Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania, and Muslim speakers of Slavic dialects classifiable as Macedonian who consider themselves to have a separate ethnicity (Goran) live in Kosovo and Albania.Owing to Greek, Serbian, and Bulgarian territorial claims, Macedonian claims to nationhood were ignored until the end of World War II, when a Macedonian republic was established within the Yugoslav federation.That republic adopted an independent constitution on 17 November 1991. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the primary source of identity was religion, but the focus shifted to language before the end of the century.The first flag used after independence, featuring a yellow sixteen-pointed symbol in the center of a red field, was based on a symbol found at the presumed burial site of Philip of Macedon in Greek Macedonia in 1977.The use of this symbol infuriated the Greeks, and in 1995 the Macedonian parliament adopted a flag with a yellow circle with eight rays projecting to the edge of a red field.